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M&C Musings: A cook approaches Thanksgiving with sharp knives and pleasant memories

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Thanksgiving dinner is my jam, baby. My kitchen knives are professionally sharpened. The crystal goblets are washed and sparkling. The silver is polished and gleaming. My circus tent of a house is approaching clean and organized and I'm contemplative.

The crystal belonged to my husband's grandmother. I never met her, and she is long gone, never knowing that her crystal would grace a Thanksgiving table years after she departed this earth.

My grandmother's leftover bits of silverware have been added to; I have been plucking odds and ends of silverware from antique shop baskets willy-nilly, to end up with a complete set of wildly mismatched silver which doubtless graced several grannies’ Thanksgiving tables years ago. Those gals will never know that their silver sets ended up with some family in a happy tumble-jumble of mismatched formal informality.

My mother's behemoth turkey roaster is ready to tackle another brined and rubbed 14-pound bird- my husband's specialty every year. He stopped experimenting with the recipe when we made it for my grandmother and she declared the best turkey she'd eaten in 92 Thanksgivings. Stop while you're ahead. This year I get to debut a new gravy boat- I've never had one before! It's brand-new and has never graced anyone's Thanksgiving table.

I'll serve homemade pies from tempered glass pie pans of undetermined provenance and everyone will eat from nondescript IKEA plates. We'll gather on an enormous dining room table with heavy chairs we bought at an estate sale that has surely seen countless holiday meals. We'll make drinks with a set of silver barware we got for our wedding that we've never actually used, until this year, when we have a new bar.

All these mismatched sets of things, some precious, most not, are all ultimately meaningless. My grandmothers are gone now; so are my husband's, and all the people whose bits of dining ware we've collected will never know that their things are sitting on a new table with a new family. But my children will know that it's a special dinner and they are special guests because we started getting ready for the meal 4 days ahead, with sharp knives and clean silverware and shining crystal goblets.

All the friends and family who will join us around the table will walk into my active circus tent of a house and feel warm and loved that someone has gone to the trouble to get out the best things- the things that take more work and more care to make them shiny and clean and ready for the table.

They'll enjoy recipes locked into our family canon because every year we do the same thing and eat the same thing because it's someone's favorite and once a year on a special day it's nice to have your favorite things, served up lovingly on pretty plates with pretty glasses and shiny silverware.

Does a proper Thanksgiving require pretty plates and turkey and nice clothes? Not on your life. You do you, whether it’s grandma’s china and dad’s turkey or pizza served from a box followed by a marathon of old movies or football games. Eat what you want with the people you love and that’s enough any day of the year.

Wherever you're headed, whatever you're eating, whatever you're cooking, whatever your table looks like- on behalf of M&C Communications- we hope you have a lovely dinner with family and friends.

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